Writing the Ultimate Motion
Writing the ultimate motion is not easy. Cases rest on lawyers presenting a well-structured, well-organized and succinct argument. Sometimes, which way a case goes depends on submitting a motion to the court at the right time. Even if you do not win the case, a good motion will get you noticed when handled properly, respectfully and with a good argument. It is as much an art as it is a science, but there are some key steps to take when compiling one. Inexperienced lawyers sometimes fail to use motions effectively, but sometimes experienced lawyers do too.
Plan Your Motion
Before submitting your motion, it’s important to plan it out. Specifically, you want it to address two issues:
- What are you trying to prove with the motion? (for example, that the piece of evidence upon which a prosecution’s case rests is circumstantial)
- An appeal to the judge to act in accordance with the purpose of the motion (dismiss the case, consider)
So long as these two issues are addressed and become focal points in the speech, it will be given serious consideration. A strong motion has a higher chance of being acted upon.
Brevity and Plain English
Never use 150 words when 10 will do the same job. A motion should be short and to the point, focusing on those two important issues mentioned above. Neither should you feel tempted to substitute simple and effective words for the lengthy and obscure. The one person you need to impress is the judge and they are unlikely to be impressed with superficiality. Ensure not to stray over into hyperbole; stick to the facts and aim for substance over style.
Have a Good Argument
Writing a good motion is about making a strong case for what you would like the judge to do. It might also seek to undermine the opposition’s case. However, a bad motion will focus solely on undermining the opposition’s case without putting forward its own argument. Striking a balance between casting doubt on the opposition’s case and strengthening your own is the essence of good argument in a law court.
Be Your Own Editor
Every writer knows the importance of good editing. Always give your work multiple read throughs. The first and last should always be for spelling and grammatical errors. Also edit for brevity and succinctness, and to ensure the content makes sense. Short, sharp sentences in plain English will win through every time. Don’t be tempted to over-complicate; each subsequent edit should make the motion that much clearer.
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